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Sydney Water has saved $20 million worth of water using acoustic listening devices across its network as part of a two-year trial to detect hidden leaks.

The sensors are designed to target non-surfacing leaks up to 200m away by listening for sounds of rushing water in a break in a pipe.

As part of the trial, the sensors helped save 9,000ML of water.

The technology was developed in collaboration with University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Detection Services, WaterGroup and Ovarro.

The sensors are set to record in the early hours of the morning when surrounding noises are lower and more accurate recording can be picked up.

These devices can be easily shifted to another area once they have served their purpose in one area.

Logger locations and leak alarms are visible in a web portal developed by UTS, which consolidates all acoustic sensor data from various sensor manufacturers.

Changes in the water network are monitored so that work crews can quickly be on the scene to localise and repair the faulty pipe, minimising disruption to motorists and our customers.

Sydney Water’s Head of Customer Hub, Darren Cash, said this technology has enhanced Sydney Water’s existing leak prevention efforts and reduced customer disruption and water loss.

“We have embedded 600 devices into Sydney Water’s watermain network, and as a result, we’ve discovered 160 hidden leaks by identifying the sound of water rushing through a break in the pipe,” Mr Cash said.

“This has allowed us to demonstrate world-leading capability in adapting acoustic sensing to target non-surfacing leaks, some of which may have been active for an estimated five to ten years.

“It also allows us to forecast and plan water main renewals with more confidence. Currently, prediction accuracy using one model of sensor is approximately 95 per cent.”

These sensors will now be integrated into Sydney Water’s business-as-usual approach, which will result in planned and scheduled maintenance works reducing the need for reactive maintenance in those areas covered by sensors.

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